Artist Spotlight + Inside The Studio of Drew Cooke

“By picturing my life in a different form, age, or context, I can expand my identity and ability to connect to the world around me.”

Your latest works are much larger in size than your previous works and use a variety of new mediums. Tell us more!

“I’ve experimented with many non-traditional art mediums for over a decade, and it has been a rich self-taught learning experience. In my most recent works, I believe I am finding a new mix of the knowledge related to and skills developed in using these non-traditional materials. More importantly in recent relief portraiture over photography works, the mixing of mediums–strong latex texture over a smooth photo–results in great contrast with both visual and conceptual impact.”

Glenda, Fred and Anthony are a diverse set of characters in your new portraiture series. Each of them have a unique story and are so vibrant that they seem to jump right off the canvas. What is your process for this new series?

“For this new series of relief portraiture over photography, I take a photo of a place in New Orleans with rich character. I search for images of faces with striking and contrasting expressions for each photo background. Reflecting on the work of da Vinci, Caravaggio, and other gestural masters, I then draw a body that dynamically intertwines the facial expression and the background photo. With all the flat layers done, I add latex textural layers and acrylic paint, oil pastels and other mediums to maximize the divisions within the composition. With four large works completed and another dozen in progress, I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.”


‘Glenda Don’t Give a Damn’ recently sold during Where Y’Art’s Masterpeace show. Congrats! Many who commented on the piece said Glenda speaks to them, and you’ve even stated that with her character you have ‘found a badass biddie’ within your soul. How is your latest series an invitation to viewers to relate more with the people around them?

“We see people differently from the world surrounding them, meaning people are a different medium than the rest of the world. By juxtaposing different mediums, my work directs attention to the divisions of our thought processes and judgement-making capacities. These works place an individual made of heavy layers of latex and acrylic paint within the context of a large photograph I‘ve taken. The tense division between the flatness of the background and the rich texture of the person reflects the charged manner with which we judge the people we encounter in our lives. By bringing attention to this visual process, I hope to challenge the manner we see others in the world around us.”

Read more about Drew Cooke through his Artist Profile and check out his work in person at the Where Y’Art Gallery at 1901 Royal!